For my supervised years group, I have to answer some questions from the Book of Discipline...(so if you're following along at home, these are in paragraph 326)
1. How has the practice of ministry affected your experience and understanding of God? Frankly I find this question a little bit insulting. Who am I to take my experiences and package the mystery of God into them? Doesn't that sound a little arrogant to you? I mean, c'mon! I experience people all the time, and we're all flawed humans. Maybe I'm supposed to have changed my understanding of God through the three and a half years of ministry, but it's not changed so much. I guess what these years have done is solidified my understanding of who God is and the grace that He gives to me (when I deserve it the least). My ministry understanding is that God gives grace so that I can be a bearer of grace.
2. What effect has the practice of ministry had on your understanding of humanity and the need for divine grace? OK, I had really intended to take these questions seriously, but this is ridiculous. I wouldn't ask high schoolers such leading questions. My answer would have to be "I understand better how humanity has fallen short of God's standard, and we need divine grace even to understand how short we've fallen, much moreso for everything else." How's that?
3. What changes has the practice of ministry had on your understanding of a) the Lordship of Jesus Christ and b) the work of the Holy Spirit? I am understanding that there are many who don't submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, including some in leadership. I think the church has gotten away from the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and that's a shame. For some, the Lordship has been transferred to a pastor (I won't mention any names here, but some might know some pastors like that). For some, it's a denominational thing (or a faction within a denomination, for that matter). I still struggle with His Lordship. I still struggle with what I'm supposed to do in my daily life, how to best show Him how much I love Him and how I want to do his will in every area of my life. Which includes not getting burned out. Which includes regular time apart with Him...
As for the Work of the Holy Spirit, that's still a mystery to me. It's something more than opeing the door at the side of the front of the sanctuary and telling the devil to get out (ironic, that when Gary did that, and then later someone fell in the parking lot) and inviting the Holy Spirit in. I think the Holy Spirit has finally begun to work at Stonybrook, and that's largely due to an emphasis on prayer.
Well, I need to go home and help get some dinner on the table. And to play with Jonathan. But as I wrestle with these questions (especially how to answer them in a way that would be respected by the Board of Ordained Ministry) you can help by commenting on this entry.